William Carlos Williams: “I thrive in a matrix of confusion (balance).” And: “Good writing is a matter of integrity to the materials . . .” The self (in its mesh and mess) disintegrating into its materials, “words and words only.” Is style form? (Along the unstinting technologically-derived superficies of the early twenty-first century?) I divagate, I dwell. (I divvy-up, I hunker down.) Thomas Traherne: “In Order to Interior or Contemplativ Happiness, it is a Good Principle: that Apprehensions within are better then their Objects. Morneys Simile of the Saw is admirable. If a man would cut with a saw, he must not apprehend it to be a Knife, but a Thing with Teeth; otherwise he cannot use it. He that mistakes his knife to be an Auger, or his Hand to be his Meat, confounds him self by misapplications. These Mistakes are Ocular • but far more Absurd ones are unseen. To mistake the World, or the Nature of ones soul, is a more Dangerous Error.” In a soul-less period, is style become form? Horkheimer and Adorno suggest that style is a mere “surrogate identity,” concomitant with “obedience to the social hierarchy.” “. . . the great artists have retained a mistrust of style, and at crucial points have subordinated it to the logic of the matter.” (Integrity to the materials.) Though: in a fluid (irresolute, planar, depthless) “era” of masqueraderie and brim inessentiality, is style form?
Am I beginning to resemble Eliot Weinberger’s report’d Mandaean “Dinanukht, a half man, half book, who sits by the waters between the worlds, reading himself”? (I am beginning to Eliot Weinberger’s report’d Mandaean “Dinanukht, a half man, half book, who sits by the waters between the worlds, reading himself.”) And pause I do, to recall N., who report’d seeing a band in London call’d Half-Man, Half-Biscuit. Why do I confuse that with R., who report’d betting on a horse named Half-Man, Half-Biscuit at the racetrack in New Orleans, and how the horse stopped, mid-straightaway, dead?
Morning’s lower’d cloud bank, solid and contemptuous. Part of what caused my intemperate outburst “Is style form?”—Robert Pinget. A note in a recent Context, heft’d into my shoulder-bag yesterday in Shaman Drum, whilst maundering my way home. (Rare late afternoon aimlessness.) Perused with my soup. Now I locate my copy of The Libera Me Domine (Red Dust, 1978), translated by Barbara Wright. Against Traherne’s ocularity (against “description as such”), Pinget admits, “it would be a mistake to consider me a partisan of any ‘school of observation.’ If we are thinking in terms of objectivity, the ear has equally tyrannical exigencies.” And:
It is not what can be said or meant that interests me, but the way in which it is said. And once I have chosen this way—which is a major and painful part of the work, and which must therefore come first—it imposes both composition and subject-matter on me. And once again, I am indifferent to this subject-matter. The whole of the work consists in pouring it into a certain mold, and I have learnt from experience that it is the mold which, line by line, makes the pudding. I am always being surprised, on re-reading my work, at having written about various things which I should have thought did not come within my province.Is style form? Not the array, not the “shape,” not the “interlock of parts,” not the narrative trajectory, not the untroubled free-running artesian well of the spirit, not the alphabetic stricture—scripture, meaning the “words and words only” scratched out in incumbent orders aurological. (Somewhere a Pinget narrator asks whether there’s “anything else to note besides this accumulation of drifting trivialities,” and, yes, there no longer is . . .)